Harlequin Historical, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-29786-3
Historical Romance, 2014
Now, I have never read any of the previous books in Ann Lethbridge’s The Gilvrys of Dunross, and Return of the Prodigal Gilvry is the last book in the series. Still, I can understand this book just fine, so it’s a pretty good standalone story.
Andrew Gilvry, our hero, returns to Scotland at long last after spending some time in America. He left for America after some acrimonious dispute with his brother, and his time in America left some indelible wounds in his soul. The man is back only because of an obligation: he is escorting the remains of Samuel MacDonald to his widow Rowena and a representative of the Duke of Mare. Rowena is estranged from Samuel – the man married her for her money, used it all up, and fled for America while leaving her with a mountain of debts. She has made her living being a companion all this while. She has no clue of the relationship between her late husband and the Duke of Mere, but the possibility that she may be left some money is too good to pass up on. So she makes her way to the Duke of Mere’s place, with Drew in tow. Along the way, they would meet smugglers, fall in love, the usual.
This is a road trip romance, with the main characters encountering all kinds of trouble as they go from one place to another. The main characters have a quiet but intense relationship here. Drew is a bit of a familiar wounded hero, but Rowena is a refreshingly sensible and smart heroine. Of course, the two of them eventually second-guess one another for the sake of some emotional conflict, but for the most part, I like the way the author builds up the romance. It’s sweet, built on mutual affection and budding friendship as much as developing lust. The most angst-laden moments work, and the hero’s emotional turmoil can be heart-wrenching at times.
Oh, and the sex scenes can get… a little wild, let’s just say, for a Harlequin Historical book. Nothing too erotic, of course, but readers who are more familiar with conventional love scenes may find those in here either an intriguing new adventure or something that should have been best left aside for other lines. I have no issue with these love scenes personally, although I won’t mind if they were more explicit – I’m just letting folks know, heh.
The romance is fine, but the rest of the story doesn’t feel as focused. For a long time, the plot seems to be composed of random or filler encounters to pad the pages. This isn’t entirely true, but that’s the impression I get due to the way the author sets up her story. As a result, Return of the Prodigal Gilvry is too easily put aside when more entertaining diversions show up. For a long time, I’m not sure whether the story is going anywhere, so I never feel the urgency to keep turning the pages.
Still, as much as this book could have been better, it could also have been worse. I’m fine with it, but I suspect I won’t remember much of it a few days later. All things considered, this one sits squarely on average, perhaps leaning a little closer to the above average mark.